5 Best Exterior Wood Finish [Reddit Choices]

Exterior wooden furniture beautifies your backyard as well as gives you a relation place. However, every wood product outside the house is prone to damage by environmental factors. Therefore, it brings out the whole idea of wood finishing to protect the wood material from deteriorating.

What is the best exterior wood finish? With a variety of wood-finish products in the market, the answer may be difficult to answer. Different products are available depending on the brand, quality, quantity, and price.

I have gathered some crucial information about the best exterior wood finish to help you select the best. Do not just pick any wood finish available without putting some factors into consideration. Learn how wood finishes work and the best application procedures to have durable exterior wood items. You will also be able to choose the correct color that will match your design needs.

Top 5 Best Exterior Wood Finish Reviews

1. Ready Seal 510 Exterior Stain

Ready Seal 510 Exterior Stain Golden Pine

Check out my 24 years of Woodworking database HERE

Ready Seal 510 is one of the best exterior wood finish products. It is easy to apply, as it requires no thinning or diluting before application. In addition, it is not necessary to prime the wood surface for you to spray the product. It makes your work easy and fast.

The stain is easy to maintain and reapply. You can use the product on almost all exterior wooden items like fences, outdoor furniture, and decks. The five-liter gallon is enough for all this work. It is therefore economical. Ready Seal is effective since you can apply it at any temperature.

This product penetrates deep in the wood fibers building a protective layer that resists water damages. Ready Seal offers eight different colors.

Once you apply the paint, the wooden surfaces will appear darker in color. The perfect color will display after about two weeks. The product is UV, mildew, water, and mold-resistant.


  • All-inclusive stain and sealer
  • Deep wood penetration
  • Water and mold resistant
  • Non-streak stain
  • Simple application and maintenance


  • Hard to clean

2. DEFY Extreme 5 Gallon

DEFY Extreme Semi-Transparent Exterior Wood Stain

DEFY extreme 5L gallon is a semi-transparent wood stain for outdoor use. It is an environmentally friendly product since it is a water-based stain. It is, therefore, safe for use by people with respiratory conditions. The color stain is of high quality with zinc Nanomaterials to protect the wood from UV radiation. They also protect the wood from mildew, mold, and moisture damage.

The DEFY wood stain covers the wood protecting it from outdoor hazards hence prolonging the life of the furniture. On the other hand, the water-based color stains do not last long. You will therefore need to reapply after every year to maintain the wood furniture in a good state.

Applying DEFY exterior stain is very easy and fast since it dries fast. Maintaining is also simple since you just need a rag plus clean water to wipe the wood surfaces. A non-fade product gives you the best elegancy in your backyard.

See also  5 Best Rated 21 Degree Framing Nailer

DEFY comes in a variety of colors to match your wood desires. These colors are light walnut, natural pine, crystal clear, driftwood gray, redwood, cider tone, and butternut. To use DEFY extreme 5 gallons, you need to remove any existing paints of a different brand. It is therefore perfect for brand new wood items.


  • Highly durable
  • Ease of application and cleaning
  • UV- and Fade-resistant
  • Environmental friendly
  • Requires little or no sanding


  • Requires Defy brightener before application
  • Require removal of existing paints

3. Ready Seal 100 Clear

Ready Seal 100 Clear Exterior Wood Stain

Ready seal 100 clear is a wood stain and sealer product that comprises all vital ingredients to carry out an exterior wood finish project. The Defy stain produces beautiful wood products giving a taste of look to your yard. It is easy to apply and maintain.

Ready seal does not require any primer, no diluting before application. You can either roll, spray or brush the Ready seal 100 onto the exterior wood surfaces. Once you brush, there is no need for back brushing since it leaves no streaks, runs, or laps behind.

The product also needs no wet layer application as it easily mixes itself for easy spreading. You can apply the stain at any temperature, as temperature ranges do not affect it. Before applying, ensure the wood surfaces are clean. Also, remove any existing stains and neutralize the caustic strippers.

The Ready seal 100 requires no sanding in case of a new wood piece. However, in the case of pressure washing, make sure you do it lightly to avoid damaging the surface. It is durable hence makes the wood furniture serve you for a long.


  • Needs no primer
  • Stain and sealer in one product
  • Penetrates deep in the wood
  • Resistant to mold and water damages
  • Simple application


  • Challenging to clean

4. Penofin Deep Penetration Oil

Penofin Deep Penetrating Oil Treatment for Hardwood Exterior

Penofin deep penetrating oil is ideal for exterior hardwood treatments and wood stain finish. It offers 99% UV protection allowing the wood furniture to last long and to look new. It is the best for furniture, decks, docks, railings, and boats. The oils penetrate deep into the wood material to offer protection to the inner and outer surfaces.

It also contains a high-quality mildewcide that helps to protect the wood against mildew together with molds. To apply, you need to clean the wood surface then apply one coat of Penofin oil. It requires less time of about 20-30 minutes. The stain will sit and penetrate in the wood.

After 30min, use a clean surface to wipe off any excess stain. For better protection, apply the Penofin stain product after 3-6 months. The product has combustible elements. Avoid working near flames, sparks, or heat. In addition, all the materials properly.


  • Ease of application and cleaning
  • Very affordable
  • Added UV rays protection
  • Perfect for the exotic hardwood finish
  • Advanced mold and mildew protection


  • Highly combustible
  • Requires proper material disposal

5. Rust-OLEUM WATCO 67741 Exterior Wood Finish 

RUST-OLEUM WATCO 67741 Exterior Wood Finish

Rust-oleum exterior wood finish is a high-quality product that protects outdoor wood from damage. It provides UV protection and offers moisture-resistant wood surfaces for hardwood products. It penetrates deep into the hardwood creating a warm wood finish. Once you apply, the wood surfaces will no longer peel, wear away, or chip.

If you need to apply to a previously stained product, ensure that you remove the old stain. Clean, sand and, then allow the wood to dry. You can use mineral spirits to clean the sanding dust. This product requires you to protect the working area and to cover the surrounding with cloth pieces. You also need to wear protective clothing to prevent yourself from harmful chemicals.

Ensure you work in a well-ventilated room since fumes can be harmful to your health. Before using the stain, stir well and flood the wood surface with stain product using a rag, roller, or brush. The temperatures should be above 55 degrees F and not more than90 degrees F. Apply several coatings giving each time to dry. Leave it for about 10 hours to dry.

See also  5 Best Finish for Cherry Wood [Reddit Choices]


  • Deep hardwood penetration
  • Maximum UV protection
  • Easy application method
  • Last for a long time
  • Quite affordable


  • Highly flammable

How to Choose to Best Exterior Wood Finish

Choosing the best exterior wood finish requires you to put a few factors into consideration. These factors include:

Type of Stain

 There are three types of exterior wood stains including; hybrid, water-based and oil-based. Water-based are easy to apply and clean. They are also safe for persons with respiratory conditions since they have low VOC. However, water-based stains fail to penetrate deeply into the wood fibers lowering their durability.

Oil-based stains are more long-lasting as they penetrate deeply into the wood. To clean the wood, you will need to have mineral spirits. Wear a protective mask when handling oil-based paints.


Transparent stains clearly show the wood grain and the natural color of the wood. Perfect for exotic woods for outdoor use. Semi-solids and semi-transparent stains blends with the grains as well as maintaining the wood texture. They last longer than transparent stains. The opaque products cover up the wood grain entirely. They are perfect to use after furniture repair. Opaque products are the most durable.


Exterior wood stains are available in different colors. Choose the color that suits your aesthetic. Dark colors absorb much heat while light colors reflect much light. Lighter colors make it uncomfortable to the eyes on bright days. On the other hand, light colors brighten a yard than dark colors.

Exterior oil

An Exterior oil finish is a simple way for exterior wood finish. The oil penetrates deeply into the fibers then dries. The oils comprise mildewcides that help to protect the wood from mildew and mold. They also have trans-oxide pigments to protect the wood from UV rays damage maintaining its natural look.

Exterior oils come in a variety of colors ranging from light amber to dark brown. Applying oils is easy. You just need a rag to wipe off once the oil soaks in. The oils have a short protection period from the wood from outdoor ravages. For this case, apply oil at least once per year.

Exterior Varnish or Urethane

Exterior varnish or Urethane is a product that forms a protective cover over the wood. The coat makes the wood to be more durable compared to exterior oil finishes. Exterior varnishes have components that protect the wood from UV radiation and moisture. It makes the wood retain its natural color and last long.

Applying exterior varnish is simple. First, apply multiple coats of the product using a bristle brush. I recommend the application of not more than three coats of Urethane to offer maximum protection. The wood will also have a gleaming finish. I also recommend that you sand each coat lightly to remove any hardened varnish.

Once you apply Urethane, it can last for two to three years before it starts to fade away. Once you realize the fading color, sand the topcoat to a smooth feel. Apply your exterior varnish. Reapply as soon as you can to avoid cracks from forming that allow moisture that degrades the wood.

Epoxy with Exterior Varnish

Epoxy with exterior varnish is a sealer that offers superb durability compared to oils and exterior varnish. However, it is the most labor-demanding outdoor wood finish. Therefore, it is the most appropriate finish for boat builders to ensure the boat lasts long.

The combination of epoxy and exterior varnish gives a symbiotic relationship. The epoxy creates an impassable moisture obstruction that protects the wood from seasonal swelling plus shrinking. The exterior varnish prevents the epoxy from deteriorating by providing UV protection.

Apply three thin coats of epoxy. You can use a half-cut foam roller to ensure you apply thin coats evenly. Before buying an epoxy, check the one that lasts for the longest time when open. In addition, for optimum flow, look at epoxy without thickeners. Once the coat becomes soft and non-sticky, apply the next coat. Once done, sand the epoxy and rinse with clean water. Finally, use dry paper towels to dry.

See also  What is the difference between common board and pine?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best finish for exterior wood? 

Exterior varnish is the ideal product for outdoor furniture. It provides high protection against moisture penetration and UV radiation. It is perfect for previously treated or stained wood. Exterior varnish forms a coat that resists peeling, blistering, and cracking resulting from weathering giving the wood a long-lasting period.

What is the most durable clear coat for wood? 

Polyurethane coats are the most long-lasting products for wood. These synthetic-clear coatings are water-resistant and prove high durability. The two aspects make them the best products to offer wood protection. Polyurethane coats take time to dry. Wait before applying the next coat. Apply three to four coats for better wood protection.

How many coats of varnish do I need for outdoor wood? 

Manufacturers recommend about eight coats of varnish. However, I would not advise these much. Since most outdoor furniture is under a covered porch, spar varnish is enough. It means that you only require applying three coats of varnish. Use mineral spirits to thin 50% of the first coat for proper penetration and sand between the other coatings.

How to finish a tabletop with polyurethane? 

First, you need to prepare the tabletop by brushing off any dirt. Use a dampened rag to rub it. Use a clean rag to wipe off excess water. Ensure you are working in a well-ventilated room for safety. Protect the working area by covering all sides with a cloth. Remove old finish by use of heat guns. Wear protective clothing and vacuum off the tabletop. Stir your polyurethane and mix with mineral spirits. 
Apply the first coat using brush bristles along the wood grain. Ensure you apply an even amount of the mixture to each coating. Allow the coats to dry for about 24 hours without touching.

How to get a high gloss on wood? 

First, you need to clean the entire wood with a TSP plus hot water mixture. Use Bondo Spot Putty to fill any imperfections. Next, use 220-grit sandpaper to smoothen the wood surface. Cover up the parts you do not need to paint using tape. Finally, use an oil-based primer to prime and fill any imperfections.
Use 400-grit paper to sand the surface flat. Clean the surface using denatured alcohol by use of microfiber rags. Prime then apply 400-grit to 1000-grit sandpapers to sand flat. Use denatured alcohol to clean again and spray the first coat. Sand the first coating using 600-1000 grit sandpapers. Spray the second coat to get a high gloss wood.

Final Verdict

Classic furniture is the best thing to have in your outdoor space. However, some climatic and weather factors degrade the wood material with time resulting in undesirable furniture. It calls for the need to have the best exterior wood finish to increase durability and maintain natural wood beauty.

Wood finishing is a call for everyone with outdoor wood furniture. Unfortunately, many wood-finish products in the market make it hard to settle on the best. However, I am sure that the issue is no longer a bother. Choose one of the above products for your wood finishing for excellent results. All the products in the list above are affordable and durable. Read instructions carefully in any product you purchase for your safety.

Similar Posts